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    Friday, 15 March 2019

    Anxiety as Tongaat plans to axe 3 000 workers



    •    Conflicting signals from Gov blamed  

    MORRIS BISHI
    CHIREDZI BUREAU

    CHIREDZI –
    Anxiety has gripped Tongaat Hulett workers in Chiredzi with speculation high that it may retrench 3 000 workers or 15% of its total workforce any time from April this year.
    Analysts told The Mirror that the speculation has basis considering that a lot of the company’s property has been grabbed up until the time that the new dispensation came into power in November 2017. They said that the company has lost buildings and estates including 4 000 hectares of plantation under an opaque empowerment programme.
    The analysts blamed the company’s decision on conflicting signals on the future of the company coming from Zanu PF politicians.
    They said the company has become insecure because of political interference.
    The speculation comes hot on the heels of a programme in which Tongaat has put a lot of its assets including buildings on the market.
    Efforts to get a comment from Tongaat Corporate Affairs and Communications manager Adelaide Chikunguru were fruitless. Enterprise Development and Community Services Executive Thomas Dheka did not respond to questions emailed to him.
    The Minister of State for Masvingo, Ezra Chadzamira did not answer his mobile phone when contacted for comment.
    There are strong indications that security services will be disbanded and outsourced. The Mirror also understands that there are plans to reduce pensionable age in order to retire hundreds of workers
    Sugar Production and Milling Industry Workers Union of Zimbabwe (SPMWUZ) General Secretary Adonia Mutero said it was almost certain that the company will retrench. He said although workers are still to be officially told, section managers are already in the know.
    He said the employer wants to reduce the retirement age for employees in odious activities from 60 to 50.
    Mutero said changes and movement of management has given rise to these speculations. He blamed confusing and mixed reactions by government actors to the grabbing of the company`s plantations as one of the reasons for downsizing.
    “We are yet to get official communication from the company but it is clear that something is happening. At one time the employer wanted to reduce the retirement age for employed in odious activities from 60 to 50.
    Former president of Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers Union (ZISMIWU) Freedom Madungwe said a lot of things are happening behind the scenes. He said the company can no longer absorb employees who were working on the 4000 hectares which were taken by Government and that will affect over 3000 employees mostly contract workers.
    A Mozambican based transport company which might take over haulage services was last week seen inspecting some of the fields preparing to take over haulage services from the company.

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